The Replacements Episode One: Wydown Middle School
This week demolition crews were busy taking down the last of Wydown Middle School in Clayton. After looking at alternatives including altering/adding on to the existing building, purchasing the old CBC High School (which was later purchased by Washington University) the school is be replaced with a new building.
Most of the new structure was built on the existing fields so that it would be ready for this fall. After the main wing of the old building is cleared, the remainder of the new school will be built.
I can't say that I ever had much appreciation for the existing school, which was completed in 1965. Light red-orange brick did little to soften the overall brutalist appearance of the building. The interior instead of mid-centry cool was simply dark and dated.
The structure lacked any component that stood out as great (or even better than good) architecture such as the soaring barrel vault wing ofMurphy & Mackey's 1958 Ladue Junior High School. In contrast, the auditorium wing at Wydown was a plain brick box that looked like an afterthought with nothing but a void to say "enter here".
Part of the new school building stands east of the 1965 structure earlier this year.
The completed new building presents an attractive facade on Wydown with a significantly increased quantity of windows in comparing to the old building.
A view along University Lane at the east end. The new school has a large V shaped courtyard between two main classroom wings which will allow plenty of daylight into the building.
Although a few mature trees were destroyed in front of the current demolition site, a row of trees was preserved in front of the new building, which greatly improves the streetscape.
The recently demolished Wydown Middle School was not the first school on the site. In 1918, the building pictured above was constructed for Hosmer Hall, a private girls school that had been founded in St. Louis in 1884. Hosmer closed in 1936, after which the City of Clayton purchased it to relieve overcrowding at the old Clayton High School on Forsyth. It was used as a 9th grade center, then an 8th grade center and was demolished after the Wydown Junior High School (name changed to Middle School in 1988) was built in 1965.
Vanishing STL was created to illustrate the continuing loss of irreplaceable architecture from landmark buildings to ordinary homes due to demolition, abandonment and neglect. Often I write about structures threatened with demolition to bring awareness of the situation and promote preservation as an alternative. All photos are by Paul Hohmann unless noted otherwise.